Development of Sociological Thought in India:RAS/RTS Mains updated syllabus

Sociology is the general study of social life, groups and societies. Sociology is a humanistic social science .It study the behavior of human beings in society. Sociology is concerned with social relationships of man with man and social interactions. It is the scientific study of social relationships, their variety, their forms and whatever affects them. It aims to study social action, not in its economic, political, religious or ethical sense, but the way it influences the social behaviour. It is the social nature of human action that concerns sociologists. Sociology is the science of social reality and social institutions. As a science of society, sociology studies social institutions, social groups, social processes and social organizations.

Written records about the indian society can be traced back to the ancient Indian mythological, religious and spiritual texts such as the Veda, Upanishads, Pura nas, Smritis, writings of Kautilya and Sukracharya that talk volumes about rites, laws, customs, economy, polity, culture, morality, aesthetics and science.

All these writings are replete with insights concerning social order and stability, mobility, human interrelationship and social governance For instance Kautilya’s rtha Shastra is a monumental treatise on political economy and Shukracharya’s Niti Shastra offers vast wisdom on morality, social customs, ethics, folkways and mores.
“Charaksamhita” of 8 century B.C advise the healers to take into account the norms, values and customs of the people who would come to them.

Most of the classical accounts of Indian Society can be found in the writings of Meghasthenes, the Greek ambassador to the court of Chandragupta Maurya. Detailed socio-cultural description of Indian society is also found in the works of three Chinese travelers,Fa-hien(400-411 A.D),Yoan Change (624-644 AD) and 1-Tsing (671-695 AD).

Also a sociological approach may be marked in the famous Aarab traveler Al-Bironi’s (973-1030) description of the social life and customs of the people. Valuable information on socio-cultural conditions and daily life of people of India are available from the narratives of Ibn Batutta (1333-1347) Famous Muslim scholar in Akbar’s court (1556-1605) but Fazal is known for his work “ in-i- kbari” It gives a wonderful description of society in all its aspects in kbar’s time bd-al-Rahman Ibn-khaldun (1332-1406) the famous Islam scholar is known for his popular treatise “Muqaddamah” where he describes the rise and fall of states and gives stress on geographical and climatic factors as causes of social change. However the above scholars were not sociologists in the modern sense. But they were keen observers of social life and society and thereby providing valuable material for sociology.

During British period, Missionaries and British officials made earnest effort to study the social life and culture of people of India. Dr. François Buchanan conducted an ethnographic survey of Bengal in 1807 which is still considered as a brilliant work of sociological importance.

Sociology emerged as a separate academic discipline in Indian universities in the 1 half of 20 century. At the beginning it was associated with Anthropology. However, the growth of sociology and anthropology passed through three phases such as.

1. First phase – 1773-1900.
2. Second phase – 1901-1950.
3. Third phase – 1950 till date.

The first department of sociology started in Bombay University in 1919 followed by the University of Lucknow in 1920s. Osmania University offered sociology as one of the options at B.A level in 1928 and as an independent MA programme in 1946. Subsequently, other Indian universities started opening Sociology as a PG program after Independence.